Pathology of acute henipavirus infection in humans and animals

Patholog Res Int. 2011;2011:567248. doi: 10.4061/2011/567248. Epub 2011 Sep 26.


Zoonoses as causes of human infections have been increasingly reported, and many of these are viruses that cause central nervous system infections. This paper focuses on the henipaviruses (family Paramyxoviridae, genus henipavirus) that have recently emerged to cause severe encephalitis and systemic infection in humans and animals in the Asia-Pacific region. The pathological features in the human infections comprise vasculopathy (vasculitis, endothelial multinucleated syncytia, thrombosis, etc.) and parenchymal cell infection in the central nervous system, lung, kidney, and other major organs. Most animals naturally or experimentally infected show more or less similar features confirming the dual pathogenetic mechanism of vasculopathy-associated microinfarction and direct extravascular parenchymal cell infection as causes of tissue injury. The most promising animal models include the hamster, ferret, squirrel monkey, and African green monkey. With increasing evidence of infection in the natural hosts, the pteropid bats and, hence, probable future outbreaks in many more countries, a greater awareness of henipavirus infection in both humans and animals is imperative.